Park board staff discovered the vandalized trees late Thursday while making their regular rounds. Some time in the past two weeks the trees, part of a grove of conifers at the foot of Tolmie Street, had their tops sawed off and limbs removed.
The park board is now working with the Vancouver police to investigate what park board chair Stuart Mackinnon called the “thoughtless, intentional damage to our urban forest.”
Damaging trees intentionally is a criminal offence, and the park board, dismayed by the act, intends to come down hard on whomever is found responsible.
Director of parks Howard Normann suspects the cuts were made to protect the ocean view of a nearby property.
“In my experience, this is strictly view-related,” he said. “That’s the only rational reason I can think of.”
Asked if the vandals were looking for cheap Christmas trees, as the cuts were likely made before the holidays, Normann said it’s been known to happen, but doesn’t appear to be the motivation here, as the trees were not taken away.
“We do lose the odd one to that,” he said. “(But) if that’s the case, people will normally cut them down at ground level and remove the tree.”
In this instance, the trees were only partially cut, and most of the tops were found nearby.
“Most of them were cut through probably three-quarters, hoping they would die and snap off in the wind,” he explained. “They’re not super fresh cuts but the rip is super fresh. I’m assuming it got knocked over in the last couple windstorms.”
Unfortunately for the culprit, the cut was too clean for last month’s gusty weather to take all the blame.
“It’s a clean saw cut,” Normann said. “There’s no question in my mind that those were cut by somebody on purpose, and unfortunately what happens is the tree lives because they’re conifers, but the problem is they’ll never grow properly up like a normal tree would grow.”
In short, the damage to the trees is permanent, and the entire area will be affected by the vandals’ actions.
“The sandy soil at Spanish Banks provides difficult growing conditions for trees,” explained the park board in a news release. “This particular grove provides welcome habitat for local birds, shade for beach-goers and also acts as protection from sand whipped up by winds along the beach.”
Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area of Tolmie Street and North West Marine Drive over the past two weeks has been asked to come forward to the park board or VPD.
“People in Vancouver are very passionate about their trees and I think they get really upset when people decide they can top a tree or cut a tree down because it would obscure a view,” said Normann.
“We’d love to be able to find out who did it and hold them responsible.”
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